Winning The WAC, One Tall Order

Written By: Russell Barns for NM State Media Relations

Lauren CopeIn most areas involving competition, size matters. The stronger, faster and more physically formidable one is the better, except for maybe women’s soccer.

Lauren Cope or "Copee" to her friends is one such player. Listed at 5-2 she may be short even for soccer standards but that is her secret weapon.

"I don’t mind being short. Actually, I kind of like it I'm able to play head games with the opposition," Cope said. "They (opponents) get mad if I beat them for an air ball. I can get in their heads."

As a starting midfielder/forward, her main attribute is quickness. One doesn’t have to have blazing speed or overpowering strength. Cope can get to the ball before most other players.

"It's a matter of staying focused; being aware of the field and players. Knowing how the game plays."

Last year as a freshman, Cope had great success on the pitch. She was named WAC Offensive Player of the Week and scored several important goals that propelled the Aggies victory.  Continue Reading This Post >>

Arthur Surreaux Dominates For The Aggies

Written By: Jayna Nance for NM State Media Relations

Arthur SurreauxLAS CRUCES, N.M. - New Mexico State University men's tennis player Arthur Surreaux continues to see success this season with a 13-1 record while still continuing to improve his game.

The senior from Sainte-Adresse, France began playing tennis at barely the age of four-years-old and hasn't looked back since.

"My dad played tennis too, so I started playing with my brother and dad and really liked it," Surreaux said.

Surreaux came to NM State from Texas A&M at Corpus Christi in the spring of 2009. He posted an impressive 14-singles wins for the Aggies in his first season, tying for the team lead in singles.

During his second season with the Aggies Surreaux lead the team in singles with an outstanding 22 wins during the season. Now, in his third season with the Aggies, Surreaux is still advancing in the game and enjoying every second of life in Las Cruces.

"I love it here! It is very different from the culture that I am used to but it is always fun," Surreaux said.  Continue Reading This Post >>

The Daily Aggie :: 10/20/10

Jason Groves of the Las Cruces Sun-News noted on his blog last night that Wendell McKines' broken foot will require surgery and that it's expected that he will miss 10 to 12 weeks. That puts his earliest return at some time in late December meaning that he'll miss the entire non-conference schedule. If he's able to return by the time WAC play starts it will be a huge boost. The question obviously is how will he play once he returns from the injury? Unlike last season when he missed the first semester because of grades, he won't be practicing every day with the team and it could take him half the conference season to get into "game shape." It will also be interesting to see how much this injury impacts McKines' explosiveness in terms of rebounding and his moves to the basket.

The Aggie volleyball team will be back in action tomorrow night as they take on Nevada in a rematch of Sunday night's match. The Aggies have been getting a significant amount of contributions from a trio of freshmen, Rocio Gutierrez, Amanda Tonga and Desiree Scott.

The guys at AggieVision have put together a feature on the trio which you can watch below.

On to today's links...  Continue Reading This Post >> Weekly Coach Walker Interview :: 10/19/10 Your thoughts on the game against Fresno State?
DeWayne Walker: I know defensively I wish we could have played the first half the way we played the second half. It probably would have been another defensive struggle if we could have gotten a few things executed better in the first half.

We decided to put Matt Christian in the game, he's our starter and Fresno State's defensively line kind of got after us early and we didn't want to shellshocked our young quarterback. We thought Matt played okay, we've just got to try to generate more points on offense and find a way to get the ball in our playmakers' hands.

Our special teams with the exception of getting punts inside the ten, I thought our special teams really handled their return game as well. Speaking of special teams, for the second straight game your special teams recovered a muffed punt and actually the second punt of the game was very close to also being a muffed punt recovery in your favor.
DW: Coach Murphy has done a good job the last couple of weeks getting our coverage teams to cover well and that's something that we need to continue to do throughout the year. You got a good performance out of both running backs and maybe a sign of good things to come for both of them.
DW: That was something we thought that we would get earlier in the year. Kenny was kind of dinged up through camp and it appears that he's getting his mojo back and we're going to need these two guys down the stretch to try to help us get some more wins.  Continue Reading This Post >>

The Daily Aggie :: 10/19/10

The 2010-2011 WAC men's and women's preseason basketball polls have been released and the Aggie men were picked to finish second while the women were picked to finish sixth.

On the men's side, this is exactly where we thought the Aggies would get picked (thought, we did vote them in first place on our ballot). Had the Aggies returned Jahmar Young this season, the Aggies would have almost certainly been picked to finish first in both polls. Now the bad news. Jason Groves of the Las Cruces Sun-News reported last night that Aggie forward Wendell McKines suffered a broken foot in yesterday's practice. How long Wendell will be out remains to be seen, however, it does a copule of things to the Aggies. It forces someone else into a starting role who may have otherwise come off the bench, testing and potentially decreasing the Aggies' depth. It also increases the pressure on the Aggie guards to rebound and score. Wendell McKines averaged nearly a double-double (PPG/RPG) last season and that kind of production is hard to replace.

It also hurts the Aggies in that, Wendell McKines brings so much energy to the court. He's a fan favorite (even when he's calling them out on his blog) and his 150% effort on the floor is contagious for his teammates. Who steps up to be the emotional leader of this team while Wendell is out?

On the women's side, the Aggies were picked to finish sixth by both the media and the coaches. The Aggies are a tough team to gauge. They've been picked to finish high and they've been picked to finish low and they've either overperformed or underperformed. Sixth seems a little low considering they only lost one contributing senior off of last year's team, Crystal Boyd. This is the last ride for Madison Spence who we expect to have a monster season. She's been an All-WAC pick in either the preseason or postseason in all four of her years at New Mexico State. Last season the Aggies were able to get to the postseason for just the fourth time in program history but this could be the season the Aggies break their NCAA drought. Much of their success will be determined by whether they can get consistent production from their post players.

Tabytha Wampler is one of the better post players in the league, however, she hasn't been able to stay on the floor long enough to showcase her talent. She has a propensity for picking up fouls which has limited her time on the floor. The Aggies need her to be a 30-plus minute per game presence. Also, don't underestimate the importance of the return of forward Erica Sanchez to the squad. Sanchez is one of the better shot blockers in the league and she is also a player that can draw defenses out away from the basket. She's a good scorer facing the basket, if she can start scoring with her back to the basket, she could be a breakout player in the WAC.

The Aggie football team will head to Moscow, Idaho this weekend to take on the Idaho Vandals. The Aggies are coming off a 33-10 loss to Fresno State this past Saturday. The Vandals are 3-3 on the season and have been the epitome of up-and-down. In their three victories they've played outstanding defense allowing just 20 points total. However, in their three losses, their defense has not played well at all and they've allowed 38, 36 and 48 points. Idaho head coach Robb Akey said in his press conference yesterday, "We have got to be consistent, there's no question about that."

He went on to say that the team's performances against UNLV and Western Michigan were almost dominant performances by the Vandals and that because they've shown the ability to play like that, it means that they should be able to do it all the time.

This will also be homecoming for Idaho who has not played at home since September 18th. The Vandals are going to be fired up to be playing at home and the Aggies will definitely need to be able to match that intensity.

We had a chance to ask Coach Akey what he thought about the Aggie program in terms of the similarities between the situation Coach Walker is in trying to build the program and the situation he found himself in when he took over at Idaho. You can read his responses in our article chronicling the parallels between the Aggie program and Vandal program.

On to today's links...  Continue Reading This Post >>

Aggie Women's Basketball Tabbed Sixth In WAC Preseason Polls

Written By: NM State Athletic Dept.

LAS CRUCES, N.M. - The New Mexico State women’s basketball team was chosen to place sixth in the Western Athletic Conference (WAC) by both the media and coaches in the preseason polls released by the conference office Oct. 19.

Senior guard Madison Spence was selected as a member of the preseason All-WAC Second Team in both polls while classmate Jasmine Lowe earned All-WAC Second Team honors in the coaches’ poll.

Last season the Aggies advanced to their fourth postseason appearance in school history and finished in a tie for fourth place in the WAC after being picked fifth by the coaches and sixth by the media in the preseason polls. NM State advanced to the postseason for the first time since 1994 as a WNIT squad and finished the year at 18-14, doubling its win total from the season prior.

"I’m not really surprised about where we were picked," head coach Darin Spence said. "To be honest, I really don’t put a lot of stock into the preseason polls. This may give our team something to play for this season, to prove we are a better team and hit another level.

“I really see the league race this year being pretty tough. I know that a lot of teams have players back in key positions. I think we can play with anybody.”  Continue Reading This Post >>

Aggie Men's Basketball Team Picked To Finish Second By Coaches And Media

Written By: NM State Athletic Dept.

LAS CRUCES, N.M. - The New Mexico State men’s basketball team was picked to finish second in the preseason WAC coaches and media polls. The Aggies are the defending 2010 WAC Tournament Champions.

Senior forward Wendell McKines and junior forward Troy Gillenwater were preseason first team All-WAC selections on both the coaches and media ballots. The Aggies were the only program to have two players on the first team.

The Aggies posted a 22-12 record in 2009-10 and won their second WAC Tournament title en route to an NCAA Tournament appearance. In its 18th tournament showing, NM State nearly upset Michigan State, a 2010 Final Four participant, in the first round.

“I had hoped that we would end up in the upper echelon, which we did, so that’s a good thing,” head coach Marvin Menzies said. “Not being first and having a carrot to keep the guys motivated, I think is also good. But we’re also ranked high enough that we’ll have a target on our backs with the teams below us wanting to knock us off our pedestal. So this is the best of both worlds in terms of motivation for our players.”

NM State returns a strong nucleus from a year ago. The Aggies had five players with double-figure average in 2009-10, and Gillenwater has the highest returning average with 14.6 points per game. McKines follows with almost a double-double consisting of 10.7 points and 9.8 rebounds per contest.

“I think those guys are primed and ready for stellar years,” Menzies said. “Wendell, being a senior, and having the experience and his track record in conference, it’s an excellent selection for him to take a step this year and being to move onto the first team. Troy has his obstacles behind him now, and he’s positioned to have stellar year. I’m hopeful that both of them use these preseason polls as motivation to try and live up to their own expectations to have a productive year.”  Continue Reading This Post >>

Parallels :: Aggies And Vandals Share More Than Just A Conference

The Idaho and New Mexico State football programs have been practically joined at the hip for the past 14 years. They've shared three conferences, the Big West, the Sun Belt and now the WAC. They've both been overshadowed by their in-state rivals. But they've also shared something else, something that neither one would have liked to have experienced. Losing. From 2000 through 2008, the two teams almost mirrored each others' failures on the gridiron. The games between the two teams were generally regarded as "the winnable game" on each others' schedule. Idaho held a 5-3 advantage in those meetings.

When the damage was added up, the Vandals recorded 23 wins and 82 losses in nine years and no winning seasons and the Aggies did not fare much better recording 34 wins and 73 losses and just one winning season (2002) during that stretch. As a result the two teams combined to see seven different coaches grace the sidelines. Current Idaho head coach Robb Akey became the fourth coach in five years when he took over the Vandal program in 2007 while current Aggie head coach DeWayne Walker became the program's third coach in six seasons when he took over last year.

However, last season something changed for Idaho. Something remarkable happened. Something that should give all Aggie football fans hope. The Vandals turned things around and they started to win. Ironically, the winning started in Las Cruces with a 21-6 victory over the Aggies. The Vandals would go on win seven more games and recording their first winning season since 1999. They finishing 4-4 in conference play and they would play in their first bowl game since 1998, winning in dramatic storybook fashion and capping a season that was the second best turnaround in the Football Bowl Subdivision. The previous season the Vandals finished 2-10 and recorded just one conference win, against… you guessed it, New Mexico State.  Continue Reading This Post >>

Father And Daugher Share A Passion For Volleyball

Written By: Brock Haroldson for NM State Media Relations

Natasha GiacomazziLAS CRUCES, N.M. - New Mexico State Aggies defensive specialist Natasha Giacomazzi has never known a time that volleyball was not a part of her life. Her dad Jim Giacomazzi is the head coach of the Wayland Baptist team and Natasha shares her dad's love for the sport.

"We do talk a lot of volleyball. When we're sitting at home, it's always on our minds." Natasha said. While Natasha has not seen much playing time in her freshman season, she hopes to improve her skills and help out the team in any way she can. Natasha has played in nine sets and has five assists and a dig.

Some of the other ways she tries to help the team are to "celebrate big off the court, just talk to them, try and be loud for the team and just be positive." Natasha said she is working on her defense and her serve receives for when she is called upon by NM State coach Mike Jordan. Jordan was one of the reasons Natasha choose to play at NM State.

"I've known Mike for a long time and I know that he's a good coach and has got a good program going and I love the area" Natasha said. Jim Giacomazzi is the director of the Sun Country Region, High Performance volleyball team. He and Natasha had been on the campus of NM State for volleyball events.

"Mike's been a big supporter of the program, so we've been on campus three or four times for training so she's been here and know them for years so it was an easy fit," Jim said.  Continue Reading This Post >>

The Daily Aggie :: 10/18/10

The Aggie volleyball team fought off set points in the first two sets to earn a sweep over Nevada last night and put themselves in to prime position heading into the second half of the league schedule. The Aggies used the three wins this weekend to put some separation between themselves and the remaining seven teams in the league while also keeping pace with Hawai'i. The Aggies will face Nevada again on Thursday night with a chance put three games between themselves and Nevada in the loss column.

While she won't likely get Player of the Week honors in the WAC, the Aggies' got an outstanding performance from freshman Rocio Gutierrez in the final two matches of the weekend. Gutierrez provided some consistency at the second outside hitter position behind Kayleigh Giddens. Gutierrez had 21 kills on 47 and just three attack errors for a .383 hitting percentage which is outstanding for an any outside hitter but especially for a freshman outside hitter.

Middle blocker Kelsey Brennan is the Aggies' other strong candidate to earn WAC player of the Week honors. Brennan finished with 33 kills on 58 swings with just six attack errors to post a .456 hitting percentage. She also finished with 11 block assists and one solo block.

The Aggie soccer team suffered a tough loss to San Jose State yesterday afternoon. The Aggies are tied with Fresno State and Nevada with three points and trail next Sunday's opponent, Hawai'i, who has four points. The four teams are battling for one spot in the conference tournament. The Aggies must win their final two matches against Hawai'i and Louisiana Tech.

On to today's links...  Continue Reading This Post >>